Imagining Catastrophe


Imagining Catastrophe is a course about catastrophe in our psychic, philosophical, and social space: how it is imagined in fiction, film, and other media, but also in policy, design, and disaster plans, how imagining catastrophes has become everyday social practice. In the course we analyse the constitutive subjects, agents, objects, and actions of imagined catastrophes.

Admission requirements

General entry requirements + Civics 1b / 1a1 +1a2. Or: Civics A, English B.

For Swedish Upper Secondary Grades merit rating will be calculated according to Områdesbehörighet 6/A6


credits 32% final grades 34% national university aptitude test 34%


Syllabus for students spring 2019

Course Code:
KK165A revision 1.1
Swedish name:
Föreställningar om katastrofer
Level of specialisation
Main fields of study:
No main fields
Date of ratification:
20 November 2018
Decision-making body:
Faculty of Culture and Society
Enforcement date:
21 January 2019
Replaces Syllabus ratified:
24 August 2018

Entry requirements

General entry requirements + Civics 1b / 1a1 +1a2. Or: Civics A, English B.

Specialisation and progression relative to the degree regulations

The course can normally be included as a part of a general degree at basic level.


In this course the students learn about the role of speculative aesthetics in circumscribing the catastrophe; the narrative scenarios of events and tensions (causes and effects), the characterization of the subjects and agents involved (heroes, victims, bystanders, active and passive ones; human and non-human), the description of the social response (institutions, means, readiness, processes, resilience); the style of drawings and plans included. Participants can use the media they are familiar with (drawing, photo, fiction, film, or a combination of them) to work with “gestaltande” course assignments.


Students learn some of the most prominent philosophical and critical framings of catastrophes, and practice how to analyse the subjects, agents, objects, and actions of catastrophes using multimodal forms of aesthetics.

Learning outcomes

After completing the course the student will be able to:
1. Demonstrate knowledge of contemporary framings of catastrophes
2. Demonstrate skills in conceptualizing and communicating future scenarios using visual/audiovisual media and writing
3. Analyze the narrative and aesthetic forms in catastrophe scenarios
4. Analyze catastrophes using multimodal forms of aesthetics

Learning activities

The course consists of lectures, seminars, collaborative workshops, and independent study of course literature.


Student are examined through two examinations:
1. A portfolio of catastrophe analysis course work (HP 12; LO 1, 2, 3)
2. A group presentation of selected course work (HP 3; LO 2, 3, 4)

Grading system

Fail (U), Pass (G) or Pass with Distinction (VG).

Course literature and other teaching materials

  • Briggs, Raymond. When the Wind Blows. London: Penguin Books, 1982
  • Clark, Timothy. 2015. Ecocriticism on the Edge: The Anthropocene as a Threshold Concept. New York: Bloomsbury.
  • Keane, Stephen. Disaster Movies: The Cinema of Catastrophe. London : Wallflower, 2001
  • McCarthy, Cormac. The Road. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2007.
  • Meiner, Carsten and Kristin Veel (Eds). The Cultural Life of Catastrophes and Crises. Walter de Gruyter, 2012
Supplementary articles and literature will be provided.

Course evaluation

The University provides students who participate in or who have completed a course with the opportunity to make known their experiences and viewpoints with regards to the course by completing a course evaluation administered by the University. The University will compile and summarize the results of course evaluations as well as informing participants of the results and any decisions relating to measures initiated in response to the course evaluations. The results will be made available to the students (HF 1:14)

Interim rules

If a course ceases to be available or has undergone any major changes, the students are to be offered two opportunities to retake the examination during the year following the change for re-examination, based on the syllabus which applied at registration.


The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the department School of Arts and Communication.

Further information

Studentservice, K3 - Malmö universitet,